Animals and Diversity of Emotions

[going to jazz festival today… will post later today, I hope]


Hello, it is later today, and I have returned from CMEA. Our band received a unanimous superior. Scores: 94, 94, 92, and sight reading: 93. I’m happy, even though I completely (and by completely, I mean about 3 notes) f—ed up the trombone soli. In case you’re interested, our set included Red Clay, Skylark (Bob Brookmeyer arrangement), and Count Bubba.

[still more to come…]


I’ve brought up the question of animals and self before, but I came to no conclusions. I think that one measure of self in animals involves the diversity, or range, of emotions capable of being expressed.

I arrived at this by first thinking of why we treat certain animals different than others. We feel more sympathetic to mammals than insects (most of us). Is it because mammals are more similar to us genetically? No, that really wouldn’t make any sense since they’re different species and their genetic propagation doesn’t help one at all. When some mammals are harmed, dogs for instance, one can see that the animal is in pain. There is sight and sound involved. One can hear the whining of the dog. One can see the scared behavior.

Yet, even insects will scatter, confused, when confronted with sadistic behavior from humans. The problem with these creatures is that they don’t convey the sights and sounds. You can’t hear an ant screaming. The ants scatter, but they lack a face. The language of the face is more important than that of the body. It is the primary exhibitor of emotion.

There’s something else about the face. It is not only primary in conveying emotion, but it also can convey a wide range of emotions. What is the ants reaction to everything? To our minds, it simply appears as if they scatter or travel in a line. There is no diversity in their conveyance of any semblance of emotion.

Let’s go back to the dog. We can identify with it better because it conveys more emotions that we can identify with. More specifically, we relate better with the diversity of emotions. The diversity of emotions leads to a diversity of reactions. More complex emotions also lead to more complex personalities (I’ll need to delve more in depth on this specific sentence at a later time.) In turn, each of these personalities react differently to different situations. This is key. The more we see that each individual animal of a species can react different, the more “self” we can judge it to have. It shows more choice being employed, rather than instinct. Less diversity of reactions shows that it’s more likely that instinct is taking over. Instinct shows less reasoning, less thinking. From my thoughts on the first axiom, I can then deduce that because the animal shows less signs of thinking on its own, it therefore has less sense of self.